Duck salad inside red box

Meet the $45 Takeout Meal That Comes in a Jewellery Box

The pandemic is changing habits — and we’re all embracing takeout like never before. While fast-food chains were always set up for takeout, other restaurants had to quickly adapt their business model to pay the bills. Fine-dining restaurants that previously relied on dine-in patrons are forced to now reimagine their food to offer an upscale dining experience to-go.

Hana in Toronto’s ritzy Yorkville neighbourhood offers one the best modern Kyō-kaiseki (Kyoto-style cuisine) dining experiences in the city. Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa’s food does a dance between modern and traditional — and pre-COVID, his preparation and presentation of each dish was so meticulous. Clearly, I had to see if the takeout experience shared the same sentiment. I opted for the duck salad, which costs $45. Expensive compared to fast-food takeout, but quite on par in terms of fine-dining prices.

Duck salad inside red box

First Looks

Let’s start with the packaging. The duck salad comes in a glistening, cherry-coloured, faux mahogany keepsake box from Japan, which adds an instant sophistication to the experience. From afar, you wouldn’t believe it’s not real wood. Once the lid is removed, your eyes are drawn to the variety. The dish is made with over a dozen ingredients that are all visible and vibrant. The star of the show is the ribbons of duck which Hana is not frugal about in this salad.

Red box on white counter

Digging In

Where do I even start? In a dish with so many ingredients, I like to try each one individually to get a sense of taste and texture separately. Essentially, I give each ingredient its own attention. It’s important to note that the duck salad’s veggies vary depending on the season. When I tried this in December 2020, this is what I had.

The duck is marinated in akamiso (red miso) and is slightly charcoal-grilled. It’s soft and buttery. The salad also has delicious carrot kinpira (julienned vegetables that are braised in a sauce made of soy and sugar), shungiku leaves (slightly bitter, yet delicate leafy greens) and maitake mushrooms, blanched and boiled in a dashi-based broth.

Related: Can’t Dine Out? These Toronto Restaurants Are Offering Date Night Meal Delivery

Ingredients that were new to me include: ginkgo (nuts that comes from a ginkgo tree and taste like edamame), golden beets (which are much sweeter than the red ones) and kikka kabura (a flower-shaped turnip). Other characters that make up the salad include daikon, radish sprouts, red cabbage, persimmons (because they’re in season), lotus roots, figs and the most finely sliced limes that complimented every bite.

Duck salad inside red box

The Sour Notes

This salad is made with a variety of vinegars: saffron vinegar, tosa vinegar, sweet vinegar and more. I can say with confidence, I never once made a dramatic sour face the way babies do when trying a lemon for the first time.

The Verdict

This dish could have gone terribly wrong given the amount of acidity in it. Ninety per cent of the vegetables were marinated with acidic notes, yet the duck stood up to it all.

I think one of the ways the chef was able to control the acidity is by his masterful knife skills, which Japanese chefs are known for. You’ll notice the dish is full of vegetable that are sliced, diced, julienned, fine-julienned and chiffonade cut. The cutting technique affects flavour. The more finely cut a vegetable, the more marinade it can absorb, which mean the chef is able to maintain a balanced flavour.

Although the shiso flower buds make a very pretty garnish, next time I would politely put them to the side. They have a very strong, lingering herb flavour that I could easily do without. I see why it would work well in a cocktail.

Overall, if you like duck, this is a must-have. You won’t be disappointed with the portion, presentation or palatableness.

Closeup of takeout duck salad in red box with wood chopsticks

Interested in more takeout reviews? We tried the KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits and Popeyes’ Chicken Sandwich.

Photos courtesy of Deepi Harish

Festive vegan latte

We Tried 3 Seasonal Vegan Lattes at Your Favourite Coffee Shops. Here’s the Winner

Holiday latte season is one of my favourite seasons. You can indulge in the best coffee beans, but with a shot of sugary flavour and warm, frothy milk. And now thanks to an increased popularity of veganism and food allergies, plant-based milk (soy, almond, oat) is also typically on the menu.

This year I wanted to sample all of the best seasonal vegan lattes to see which one held up best. However because of the pandemic it felt like the options for such bevvies has been limited as many smaller joints have had to shut down. The good news is that some of the coffee franchises we all know and love did step up to pump out the special syrup and spices this season. And while I’m always a fan of supporting local, for the purpose of Canadian readers everywhere, here’s my hot take on the best vegan lattes from three of the more widely available cafes in the country.

Related: Coffee and Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Belly

Chestnut Praline Latte With Almond Milk, Starbucks

Available across Canada

Festive flavour: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, perhaps? Just ordering this drink, which promises “caramelized chestnuts and spices” is enough to make me want to bust out the Nat King Cole.

Sweetness: A grande comes with four pumps of syrup, which was a touch on the sweet side. Next time I might stick with two or three.

Real talk: To make this version vegan, I omitted the whipped cream. Because of that, they also left off the “specialty spiced praline crumbs.” It doesn’t matter — I fell in love with chestnut lattes years ago. To be honest, it’s one of the first drinks my husband and I order every holiday season when they make their way to Canada.

Related: Famous Recipes We’re Making at Home, From McDs Hash Browns to IKEA Meatballs

Verdict: This year did not disappoint. While my drink was overly sweet (it took me a while to finish the whole cup) I did love how smooth and velvety it was. It also came piping hot, which was a bonus because I’m also that girl who microwaves her coffee if it’s not steaming. And as for the almond milk substitution? The syrup actually overpowered that chalky taste you can sometimes get with almond milk — and I think the drink would have been even sweeter with the regular stuff. So I’m calling this one a glorious, vegan win. Now if only they made chestnut lattes available year-round…

Gingerbread Latte With Almond Milk, Coffee Culture

Available in Ontario and Manitoba

Festive flavour: Gingerbread is kind of the ultimate holiday flavour, don’t you think? So drinking it in latte form (rather than biting into a tooth-chipping piece from the stale house my kids always insist on decorating) makes sense.

Sweetness: This one wasn’t nearly as sweet as the chestnut latte, but it definitely left me with a bit of a sugar rush.

Real talk: Full disclosure: I’m pretty picky about how I like my gingerbread. I love fresh ginger, so if we’re talking cookies, I prefer the warm and chewy kind.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

Verdict: As a drink, this gingerbread latte had a pretty great balance of coffee to ginger — and just smelling it was enough to bring a warm and fuzzy feel to my hectic afternoon. But one cup was definitely enough to last me for the entire season. I’m of the camp that gingerbread is special because it’s a once-in-a-while treat. But if they made this drink in candle form? Well that’s something I’d light up all season long.

Cinnamon Toast Latte With Almond Milk, Second Cup

Available across Canada

Festive flavour: I feel like cinnamon is a year-round flavour, so I wasn’t necessarily getting a festive vibe from this drink. But it did feel special and new, especially since I got to sip it in a fully decorated cafe while my toddler nibbled on a croissant.

Sweetness: Once again this latte was slightly too sweet for my personal preference, so next time I would ask for one less pump of syrup.

Real talk: Growing up my dad used to make me cinnamon toast and it was one of my favourite breakfasts. So I was immediately excited to try this grown-up version. I sipped it while watching my kid take in the experience of having a snack at a cafe (something he hasn’t really gotten to do yet in his life, especially with this pandemic) and it just reminded me of traditions, holiday shopping and taking a timeout to savour the season. Yes, I got all that from a drink.

Related: We Tried Popeyes’ Famous Chicken Sandwich That Finally Arrived in Canada — Is It Worth the Hype?

Verdict: I appreciated that while the other cafes were happy to offer up vegan milk in any of their lattes, Second Cup specifically put a plant-based version of its Cinnamon Toast Latte on the menu. They usually make theirs with oat milk (because oats and cinnamon are another memorable combo), but in order to be completely fair to the other shops, I had mine with almond milk. That suited me just fine and it was delicious, but next time I’m there I’m definitely trying to recommended version.

Winner

While the chestnut latte was delicious and the gingerbread latte was memorable, I have to go with the cinnamon toast latte. Are you surprised? I believe the season is all about the memories we make — and to me, the drink was a mood. Add in the fact that Second Cup put effort into branding the latte as a vegan drink and it had to win — hands down.

That said, this year has been strange and weird for so many reasons. Restaurants have been struggling to stay afloat, let alone sink money into new products. So I’m calling this a tentative win for now and here’s hoping that by this time next year, we can all over-imbibe on caffeine and more holiday-themed, sugary goodness.

Photos courtesy of Amber Dowling

We also tried the KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits. Are they worth the hype?

Fill Your Bread Basket With Ina Garten’s Mini Brioche Rolls

The Barefoot Contessa’s warm, comforting mini brioche rolls may be a little more time-consuming than what you’re accustomed to when baking, but they’re well worth the wait once you take a bite of these melt-in-your-mouth gems. Perfect for a special occasion or to make-ahead for a mid-day snack, Ina Garten’s mini brioche rolls are bursting with flavour.

Related: Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours Will Be Your Go-To Cocktail

Ina Garten’s Mini Brioche Rolls

Total Time: 12 hours, 5 minutes
Yields: 20 rolls

Ingredients:

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 120 degrees F)
1 package dried yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

See More: Dinner Etiquette Tips That Would Make Ina Garten Proud

Directions:

1. Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If the bowl is cold, start with warmer water so it’s at least 110 degrees when you add the yeast.) Mix with your hands and allow to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast and sugar dissolve. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, add 2 cups of the flour and the salt and mix for 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low, add 2 1/4 more cups of flour and mix for 5 more minutes. Scrape the dough into a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

2. The next day, allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile, grease 20 mini brioche tins. Set aside.

3. Place the dough in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the softened butter in chunks, and mix for 2 minutes, adding additional flour as needed to make a ball. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and divide the dough into 20 (1 3/4-ounce) balls and place them in the tins. Cover the tins with a damp towel and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. When the rolls have risen, brush the top of each with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back and it sounds slightly hollow when tapped. Turn the rolls out onto a wire rack to cool.

Related: How to Make Ina Garten’s Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

The Top 2020 Baking Recipes From Food Network Canada’s Sweet Treat Queen

2020 was truly a strange year. With everyone spending more time at home and more time in the kitchen, my hope was that these Baking Therapy treats would inspire you to try something new. I’m sharing some of my favourite recipes from this past year, from my soft and pillowy rolls to one of my all-time favourite carrot cake recipes, that will hopefully ignite the baking enthusiast in you. Happy baking!

East Soft Dinner Rolls

Does the thought of baking bread intimidate you? Don’t let it! These soft and fluffy rolls are easy to make and require just a few basic pantry ingredients that you probably already have at home.

two soft dinner rolls on cooling rack

Get the recipe for Easy Soft Dinner Rolls

Key Lime Pie Icebox Cake

Layers of tart key lime curd, creamy vanilla ice cream and soft graham cracker cookies make up this delicious icebox cake. Did I mention it’s no-bake? Plus: it only requires 30 minutes of prep!

No-bake key lime pie icebox cake on wood cutting board

Get the recipe for Key Lime Pie Icebox Cake

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Start your mornings on a sweet note with these gooey cinnamon rolls. Soft, fluffy and drizzled in the most addictive brown butter cream cheese icing, I promise you will not be disappointed.


Get the recipe for Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake Pastry Pockets

These pastry pockets will get you feeling nostalgic. Flaky pie crust filled with your favourite jam or jelly and the most delicious cream cheese. To make it even easier, try store-bought pie dough.


Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake Pastry Pockets

Ginger Molasses Cookies

The quintessential holiday cookie. These ginger molasses cookies are soft, chewy, full of bold flavours and have the perfect crackly tops. My little secret? Spicy ginger candies to take it to the next level.

Ginger molasses cookies with crumbled candied ginger on top

Get the recipe for Ginger Molasses Cookies

Pumpkin Pie Squares With Spiced Candied Pecans

If you love pumpkin pie, you will love these pumpkin pie squares! Velvety smooth filling with a spicy ginger snap crust.

pumpkin pie squared on cooling rack

Get the recipe for Pumpkin Pie Squares With Spiced Candied Pecans

Sweet Potato Brownies

No one will ever know these fudgy brownies are made with sweet potatoes. They’re perfectly chocolatey, loaded with nutrients and — surprise! — also gluten-free.


Get the recipe for Sweet Potato Brownies

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is the perfect ending to any dinner. Sweet and spongy cake soaked in a decadent toffee sauce, there’s no passing up this sticky dessert.

sticky toffee pudding on white plate

Get the recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Icing

The one cake recipe you will make time and time again. Carrot cake has always been a favourite of mine and since carrots are available year-round, there’s no reason to wait until spring to enjoy it! This one is loaded with coconut, pecans and fresh pineapple chunks.


Get the recipe for Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Icing

12-Layer Chocolate Cake

Impress your family with this 12-layer chocolate cake. Yes, you read that right. But here’s a little secret: it’s made with just one single 9-inch cake pan.


Get the recipe for 12-Layer Chocolate Cake

Hasselback Apples With Coconut-Oat Streusel

Apples are such a versatile fruit and there are unlimited ways to enjoy them. These Hasselback apples are sliced open like a fan and stuffed with a truly addictive coconut-oat streusel. Enjoy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Caramel being drizzled on Hasselback apples

Get the recipe for Hasselback Apples With Coconut-Oat Streusel

Tiramisu Cream Puffs

You can have more than one favourite dessert right? Tiramisu is one of my weaknesses. Sweet custard layered between coffee-soaked lady fingers — what’s not to love? All the flavours of tiramisu wrapped into a handheld treat.

tiramisu cream puffs on cutting board

Get the recipe for Tiramisu Cream Puffs

Banana Upside-Down Cake

We all have a bunch of brown bananas lying around in our kitchen. Skip the banana bread and make this impressive upside-down banana cake instead! Topped with sliced bananas, caramel and of course — you must always add ice-cream.


Get the recipe for Banana Upside-Down Cake

White Chocolate Funfetti Cookies

Everyone needs an emergency cookie stash. These funfetti cookies are crispy on the edges, chewy in the centre and deliciously nutty from the brown butter.

White chocolate funfetti cookies on white plate

Get the recipe for White Chocolate Funfetti Cookies

Rainbow Crepe Cake

Brunch never looked so good. This vibrant cake has 24 layers of soft, colourful crepes layered between light whipped cream.

rainbow crepe cake with berries on top on white cake stand

Get the recipe for Rainbow Crepe Cake

Like Sabrina’s Baking Therapy recipes? Check out more here!

This Venison Carpaccio With Cedar Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jam is the Perfect Appetizer

Not only does cooking reflect culture, but it also reveals the resources found in a community’s surrounding environment. I discovered a love for food as a child, later combining my passion for cooking with the desire to know the history and cuisine of the First Nations peoples better. This is the inspiration behind my dishes.

I work with foragers and hunters in northern Québec who supply me with exceptional products such as wild cattails and currant leaves. My venison carpaccio recipe, which includes cedar jelly and a sea buckthorn jam, is a great example of my cooking technique. Slices of the freshest venison are garnished with the boreal flavours of cedar and sea buckthorn, a tart vitamin C–rich berry that can be found fresh or frozen at specialty markets.

At its essence, my work is focused on adapting the traditional pantry of an ancient culture to modern tastes. For the First Nations, respect for Mother Earth is paramount. By staying in harmony with nature, my recipes permit me to rediscover forgotten flavours that long served as a cuisine of survival. The Canadian wilderness has so much to offer: spices, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and roots, plus boreal nutmeg, peppery green alder (or dune pepper), wood cardamom, serviceberry, wild celery root and the Labrador tea, a tisane of local herbs. These are the colours in my palette of Indigenous cuisine.

Venison-Carpaccio-With-Cedar-Jelly-and-Sea-Buckthorn-Jam_888embed

Venison Carpaccio With Cedar Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jam

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Sea Buckthorn Jam
1 lb (600 g) sea buckthorn berries, rinsed
14 oz (400 g) apples, diced
17½ oz (500 g) sugar

Venison
12 thin slices venison
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cedar jelly
2 tsp (10 ml) duck fat
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper to taste
Microgreens for garnish (optional)

Related: Holiday Party Appetizers Your Guests Will Love

Directions:

1. In a saucepan with splash of water, cook sea buckthorn berries over low heat until they burst.

2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into clean saucepan then discard seeds. Add apples to berry mixture and stir in sugar. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, skimming any foam that forms on the surface. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Place venison on serving dish. Brush each slice with cedar jelly and duck fat, then sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper. Garnish with sea buckthorn jam and microgreens.

Published October 13, 2015, Updated December 28, 2020

Leftover turkey pizza

The Best Leftover Turkey Recipe You’ll Ever Need (We Promise!)

We’re sure you’ve come across a lot of ways to use up leftover turkey, but what about a recipe that uses ALL the holiday leftovers? Introducing the Love Your Leftovers holiday pizza! You will never need — or want — to find another holiday leftovers recipe again. You might even find yourself roasting up a turkey just to make this delicious pizza. For the carbs portion, feel free to use any leftover carb you have available, like roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or stuffing. Add the cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts and you’re good to go!

Leftover turkey pizza cut up on counter

Leftover Turkey Pizza Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 to 18 minutes
Total Time: 25 to 28 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup leftover turkey, pulled or diced (Not a fan of turkey, but have leftover ham or leftover rotisserie chicken? They both work too!)
½ cup mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes or stuffing
½ cup cranberry sauce
½ cup roasted Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

Leftover turkey pizza ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place pizza stone in the oven. Divide dough into two equal portions. Stretch and roll out dough to desired thickness.

Person kneading pizza dough

2. Generously brush the dough with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a pizza paddle.

Related: Delicious Uses for Leftover Mashed Potatoes

3. Dollop with ricotta cheese. Top with turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts.

Leftover turkey pizza

4. Slide pizza onto the heated stone and bake until the crust is golden, about 15 to 18 minutes. Enjoy!

Leftover turkey pizza

Like Marcella’s leftover turkey pizza recipe? Try her vegan eggnog or her cinnamon streusel muffins.

Anna Olson holds up a ceramic ramekin dessert

Anna Olson’s Genius Way to Use Up Leftover Holiday Cookies

They say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure – and this rule certainly applies in the kitchen! From pie crusts to trifles, there are dozens of creative ways to use stale cookies in sweet repurposed recipes. Use Anna Olson’s tip below for any type of cookies you have on hand, or try your hand at one of our other great recipes that make use of your sweet holiday leftovers.

Related: Shop Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Gadgets

Sugar Cookies


To use as a crumble topping, break up leftover sugar cookies into little pieces in a bowl. For every one cup of crumbled up cookies, add two tablespoons of melted butter and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. It’s that easy! After cooling, serve this delicious dessert as you like it – drizzled with caramel sauce, with a scoop of ice cream, or a dash of icing sugar.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Wooden charcuterie board with a chocolate dessert salami cut into small coins

Take leftover store-bought or homemade chocolate sandwich cookies and make a rich, chocolate-y no-bake dessert (that makes a great late holiday gift!). Chocolate sandwich cookies, graham crackers and pretzels stud this dessert salami, making it the perfect recipe to use up all your leftover snacks.

Get the recipe for No-Bake Oreo Salami

Gingerbread Cookies

Milk chocolate bark studded with ginger snap cookies, cranberries and pistachios and drizzled with white chocolate

Got surplus gingerbread cookies or a smashed gingerbread house? Crushed up gingerbread cookies work perfectly in place of ginger snaps in this milk chocolate holiday bark.

Get the recipe for Gingerbread Holiday Bark

Shortbread Cookies

Vanilla ice ccream swirled with strawberries and topped with a cookie crumble

For a sweet, buttery topping, crumble leftover shortbread cookies on top of ice cream drizzled in homemade strawberry rhubarb syrup. It’ll add a little crunchy texture to your sundae.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb & Shortbread Cookie Crumble

Anything Else!

Grasshopper pie with chocolate crust and mint cream filling and a sprinkling of chocolate cookie crumble

Instead of graham crackers, use a cookie of your choice to make a delicious pie crust. For this traditional grasshopper pie recipe, crush chocolate cookies and mix with melted butter. Press into a pan and then fill with marshmallow fluff. Delish!

Looking for more ways to use up leftovers? Check out these tasty ways to use all that leftover turkey, plus these sweet & savoury ways to repurpose pie dough.

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips

Cheers to the Holiday Season With This Apple Spruce Gimlet Cocktail

This holiday season, try a fresh take on the classic gimlet with this That’s the Spirit apple spruce gimlet cocktail — the ingredients are uniquely oh-so Canadian! The combination of apple and spruce tips lends itself to this beautiful cocktail that tastes like fresh winter’s breath. Have it with a spirit of choice or a non-alcoholic alternative (like juice or soda) to bring out all the different flavours. Plus: it’s easy to whip up!

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips

Apple Spruce Gimlet Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

½ cup fresh-pressed apple juice
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp dried spruce tips + more for garnish
Juice of 1 lime
2 oz spirit of choice (or non-alcoholic substitute)
Ice for shaking

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips ingredients

Directions:

1. Create your apple spruce syrup: in a saucepan, add apple juice, sugar and dried spruce tips. Bring all contents to boil.

2. Once bubbling, lower to simmer. Allow to simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. Remove apple spruce syrup from heat and let cool.

cocktail simmering on stovetop

3. Strain out solids through a colander or strainer into a non-reactive container. Syrup recipe can remain in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

4. In a shaker tin, add 1oz of the apple spruce syrup.

Related: Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours Will Be Your Go-To Cocktail

5. Slice a lime in half and squeeze the juices of both halves into the shaker tin, combining with apple spruce syrup.

6. Pick your of spirit (white spirits for more herbal, evergreen qualities; brown spirits to bring out warming spices in the drink). Add 2 oz of chosen spirit in the cocktail shaker.

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips pour

7. Add enough ice to cover the liquid plus a little bit more, do not be shy. Cover the other side of the shaker tin and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds until well chilled.

8. Strain into a coupe glass (or your favourite cocktail glass) and garnish with winter herbs (spruce from your garden works!). Enjoy immediately.

gimlet cocktail with spruce tips

Feeling inspired? Check out these swanky cocktail recipes for New Year’s Eve.

Vegan Antipasto Skewers Are the Creative Plant-Based Appetizer You Need

Let’s be real: the heart of any celebration is the food. To keep your guests happy, make sure the apps are flowing, which as it turns out, is a bit of an art form: appetizers should look “appetizing,” they should be finger-friendly, mess-free and only take a few bites to consume. That’s why these We Know You Have 10 Minutes vegan appetizers in the form of antipasto skewers make for the best addition to your table. They’re user-friendly, beautiful and a cinch to make! And since dietary restrictions are commonplace these days, it’s important to accommodate with vegan finger foods. These two dairy-free plant-based beauties are the perfect place to start.

Olive, Artichoke, Tomato and Balsamic Skewers

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:

Small wooden skewers (or toothpicks)
Artichokes, from a jar
Kalamata olives, pitted
Cherry tomatoes (extra points for multi-colour!)
Basil leaves
1-2 Tbsp balsamic reduction or syrup

Directions:

1. Remove the artichokes from the jar and cut them slightly so they’ll fit onto the skewers and are manageable to eat.

2. In any order, thread the ingredients above through the wooden skewers. We like to ribbon basil leaves between the ingredients to create more vibrant colour throughout and to get that punchy taste of raw basil with every bite.

3. Once all ingredients are on the skewers, take your balsamic reduction and lightly drizzle it over top. You can pour the balsamic on a spoon, hover about 10 inches above the skewers and drizzle away.


Eggplant, Tofu, Zucchini and Pesto Skewers

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 to 35 minutes (if you roast the eggplant and tofu the night before, then the total time will only take 10 minutes!)
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:

1 eggplant, chopped into 1 ½ inch cubes
1 brick tofu, patted dry and chopped into 1 ½ inch cubes
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
1 zucchini, peeled into ribbons
8 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
Small wooden skewers (or toothpicks)
2-3 Tbsp pesto

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Chop the eggplant and tofu into cubes, they should be around the same size.

3. Season both with oil, salt and pepper. Place them on separate baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Related: These Are the 5 Best Meatless BBQ Skewers You’ll Ever Eat

4. Roast the tofu for 15 minutes and the eggplant for 20-25 minutes. Both should be lightly crisp.

5. While the eggplant and tofu are roasting, peel the zucchini into thin ribbons and make your pesto, if you’re not buying it pre-made.

6. Once all veggies are prepped, begin threading them through the skewer in any order you desire.

7. Place them on a tray or plate and lightly dollop a few spoonfuls of pesto over areas of the skewers.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s vegan antipasto skewers? Try their easy lemon spatchcock chicken or sumac-spiced roasted delicata.

Published November 30, 2019, Updated December 23, 2020

Holiday Dessert is Made Easy With These Cute 6-Ingredient Mini Apple Crumble Tarts

Need an easy, yet impressive holiday dessert? If you have a package of puff pastry in your freezer and a handful of other fridge and pantry staples, you’re halfway to making these simple apple crumble tarts. This version is mini-sized, perfect for individual servings to snack on during the week (it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to enjoy a homemade dessert!) or for serving at holiday gatherings. Best of all, they come together in no time at all and if you are the kind of person who likes to plan ahead, you can assemble these and freeze them so you’ll only need to preheat the oven when you’re ready to enjoy.

Mini apple crumble tarts on white tray

Mini Apple Crumble Tarts

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 tarts

Ingredients:

400g (or 2 rolls) frozen puff pastry, thawed but chilled
1 large or 2 small granny Smith apples
3 Tbsp butter, melted + 3 Tbsp cold butter cut into 12 pieces
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup large flake rolled oats (not instant)
Pouring cream (optional)
Sliced or slivered almonds (optional)

Mini apple crumble tarts ingredients

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F. Lightly grease a muffin tin with butter.

2. Roll out pastry; use a 3 ½-inch cookie cutter to cut out 12 rounds.

3. Place a round of pastry into each spot in the muffin tin and gently press them into the tin. Prick the bottom of each pastry round with a fork and place the tin in the fridge while you work on the filling.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Irresistible Apple Desserts

4. Peel and core the apple(s) and cut into tiny cubes. Place in a medium bowl and set aside.

5. Mix the melted butter, flour, sugar and oats in a small bowl until all the ingredients are wet. Mix the apples with the crumble topping.

6. Divide the filling evenly between the pastry cups. (At this stage you can freeze the assembled tarts. Once completely frozen, you can store in them in airtight containers for two weeks. Bake from frozen — although they might take a few minutes longer in the oven).

Mini apple crumble tart in baking tray

7. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven and top each tart with the small cube of butter. Bake for another 20 minutes at until the pastry is golden brown, the apples are soft and the crumble is crispy.

8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the tins. Serve with pouring cream and some slivered almonds.

Mini apple crumble tart on white plate

Like Mardi’s mini apple crumble tarts? Try her mixed berry galettes or her French butter cookies.

DIY Girl Guide cookies on plate with milk

DIY Girl Guide Cookies: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Thin Mints

A Girl Guide favourite just got even more wholesome. These simple, seven-ingredient vegan thin mints are dairy-free, gluten-free and made without refined sugar. The almond flour gives them a rich and nutty flavour that’s still neutral enough to remind you of the real thing — only more delicious. Enjoy them straight out of the fridge with a glass of cold almond or oat milk.

DIY Girl Guide cookies with milk

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Thin Mint Cookies

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Rest Time: 60 minutes
Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 24 to 30 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup + 3 tsp coconut oil, divided
¼ cup maple syrup
1 ¾ tsp peppermint extract, divided
⅛ tsp sea salt
1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips or chunks

DIY Girl Guide cookies ingredients on counter

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour, cocoa powder, ¼ cup melted coconut oil, maple syrup, 1 ¼ tsp peppermint extract and sea salt until it forms a sticky, slightly crumbly dough. Divide the cookie dough into two parts and flatten into discs. Cover each disc in food wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

Related: The Sweet Prairie History of Girl Guide Cookies

3. Place one chilled dough disc on a piece of parchment paper and roll out until it’s about ¼ inch thick. Cut out circles using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, using up all the remaining dough scraps. Repeat with the second disc of chilled dough.

DIY Girl Guide cookies dough

4. Put cookies on the lined baking sheet, spacing evenly and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet, about 20 minutes.

DIY Girl Guide cookies on baking trray

5. Once the cookies are cooled, make the chocolate coating. Combine chocolate chips and 3 tsp coconut oil in a small bowl and melt in the microwave in 15-second intervals or on the stove using a double boiler. Once the chocolate is melted, stir in a scant ½ tsp peppermint extract.

6. Carefully dip the cookies into the chocolate coating with a fork, flipping over to get all sides. Let any excess chocolate drip off before placing them on the baking sheet.

DIY Girl Guide cookies melted chocolate

7. Cool the tray of dipped cookies in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens, about 20 to 30 minutes.

8. Store the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer and enjoy them chilled.

Like Claire’s vegan thin mints recipe? Try her sfenj AKA Moroccan doughnuts or her upside-down apple cake.

Eggs benny with peameal bacon

The History of Peameal Bacon — Plus Our Favourite Recipes

Canadians know peameal bacon as an iconic national breakfast food, but the back bacon’s backstory is even richer than its flavour. For those who don’t know, peameal bacon is wet-cured pork loin from the back of the hog that has been trimmed of fat and rolled in cornmeal, creating a yellow crust.  Originally, it was rolled in crushed yellow peas, hence the name peameal. It is much leaner than regular bacon.

White plate with three pieces of peameal bacon

Peameal bacon holds a spot in 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die and it’s easy to understand why. The brining process makes it nearly impossible to overcook and it’s both leaner and juicer than regular bacon. A uniquely Canadian product, it’s often confused with Canadian bacon. What is Canadian bacon? A smoked back bacon that’s popular in the US — and isn’t Canadian at all.

These days, it’s hard to find peameal bacon outside of Canada, making it a favourite with tourists at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market. The Carousel Bakery, which has occupied the same spot in the market since 1977, is a city landmark famous for its fresh peameal bacon sandwiches.

Related: The History of Cakes: From Red Velvet to German Chocolate

Robert Biancolin, who co-owns the bakery with his brother, dubs peameal bacon Toronto’s most original food. “It wasn’t brought here from somewhere else,” he says. “It is very uniquely Torontonian. Of course, like poutine was uniquely Quebecois, it spread across the country. It is one of those dishes that encompasses being Canadian. It is part of our tradition.”

Unlike Canadian bacon (which is, let’s not forget, American) peameal bacon must be cooked. Biancolin says the best way to prepare it is by griddling, although it can also be baked, barbecued or roasted.

Related: How to Make French Toast and Other Easy Big Breakfast Recipes

Peameal bacon is delicious, iconic and Canadian, but culinary historians have struggled to identify its origins with absolute certainty. “I don’t think that you’ll find a single origin story,” says Daniel Bender, director of Culinaria Research Centre and University of Toronto history professor. “There are and have been for centuries many ways of curing pork — ways of making it last through lean months. Smoking is one. Salting is another. Corning (curing through brine) exists in numerous locations and recipes.”

Toronto’s oral history offers a clue by naming pork baron William Davies the inventor of peameal bacon. This is the story that’s been passed down through muddy stockyards, told over deli counters and posted across the blogosphere — and while the well-told tale has likely changed over the years, that doesn’t mean it’s hogwash. What we do know is that William Davies forged an empire on bacon and other pork products.

William Davies stall, St. Lawrence Market, 1911

William Davies’ stall in the St. Lawrence Market, 1911.
City of Toronto Archives

By the early 1900s, with the help of business partner Joseph Flavelle, Davies had built what was believed to be the largest pork plant in the British Empire, processing nearly half a million hogs a year at his Front Street plant near the mouth of the Don River and earning Toronto its nickname: Hogtown.

Davies couldn’t have had better timing. By the Victorian era, bacon was considered a necessity and demand for the Canadian export was high. Canadian cured pork continued to be an important food product in Britain well into the Second World War, when the Bacon Agreement stipulated that the UK would accept no less than 5.6 million pounds of Canadian ham and bacon each week.

William Davies Store, interior, 1908

William Davies store interior, 1908. Sources differ on the store’s location, which was either in City Hall Square or on Queen Street West, between Bay and Yonge streets.

Changing dietary attitudes and demographics mean that Canadian pork isn’t as popular with Brits — or Canadians — as it once was. Still, Davies’ legacy lives on. His company would eventually become today’s Maple Leaf Foods, which still produces peameal bacon for national consumption.

Meanwhile, the St. Lawrence Market remains a hub for cured meats and other delicacies. Locals, tourists and celebrities continue to flock to the market,  going hog wild for Toronto’s most original food.

Peameal eggs benny

Feeling inspired? Here are some of our favourite recipes that use peameal bacon: Anna Olson’s Eggs Benedict With Peameal Bacon on Scallion Waffles and Tomato Cream, Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich and Maple Bourbon Peameal Bacon Sliders.

Published March 29, 2016, Updated December 20, 2020

Photos courtesy of Getty Images and City of Toronto Archives

Kardea Brown’s One-Pan Cheesy Baked Eggs Make Brunch a Breeze

Looking for a new recipe to add to your regular brunch rotation? As Kardea Brown shows us with this mouth-watering cheesy baked dish, it’s easy to elevate the humble egg with just a few basic ingredients. Chopped mustard greens, hash browns and various cheeses are tossed into a casserole dish alongside eggs for a hearty comfort food that’ll leave you belly full.

Related: Kardea Brown’s Pan Fried Collard Greens Are the Garlicky, Bacon-y Vegetable Side Dish of Your Dreams

Kardea Brown’s One-Pan Cheesy Baked Eggs

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yields: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups chopped mustard greens
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup baking mix, preferably Bisquick
2 cups grated sharp yellow Cheddar
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups frozen hash browns

Related: Kardea Brown’s Beef and Okra Stew is the Warming Dinner You Didn’t Know You Were Craving

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon softened butter.

2. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard greens, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper and saute just until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Miss Kardea Brown finishes her Cheesy Baked Eggs as seen on Delicious Miss Brown, Season 3.

3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, baking mix, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some pepper in a bowl until well incorporated. Stir in the mustard greens, cheeses and hash browns. Pour into the greased baking dish. Bake until puffed lightly, golden brown and soft-set in the middle, 45 to 50 minutes.

4. Cool slightly before slicing and serving warm.

Related: The Best Ways to Prepare Eggs Around the World, From France to Japan

Watch Delicious Miss Brown and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

salted caramel lava cakes on white plate

These Warm Salted Caramel Lava Cakes Only Require 8 Ingredients (Easiest Holiday Dessert Ever!)

Warm salted chocolate caramel lava cakes — yes, you read that right! These Baking Therapy treats are different from traditional lava cakes: picture a cross between a cupcake and a brownie. They’re chocolatey, fudgy and oozing with dulce de leche! Make a big batch and enjoy all winter long. Added bonus: this recipe requires only eight ingredients and takes just 40 minutes to whip up.

salted caramel lava cakes on white plate

Warm Salted Caramel Lava Cakes

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 10-12 minutes
Total Time: 40-42 minutes
Servings: 9 lava cakes

Ingredients:

½ cup store-bought caramel or dulce de leche
½ tsp flaky salt
1 stick butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Lava cake ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease and line the bottoms of 9 muffin tins, set aside.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the dulce de leche and flaky salt. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease with neutral oil. Dollop 1 heaping teaspoon of dulce de leche on the greased paper, place in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Related: Our Favourite Decadent Chocolate Desserts

3. While your dulce de leche is cooling: in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate. Mix until mixture is smooth.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar on high until doubled in size, about 4-5 minutes. Stream in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla and whisk to combine. Fold in the flour.

salted caramel lava cakes batter

5. Once the dulce de leche is cold, lightly grease your hands and roll them into perfect rounds. Set aside.

6. With an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tins ⅔ of the way full, reserving about ½ cup of batter. Push the dulce de leche rounds into the centre of each and top the cakes with the remaining batter.

salted caramel lava cakes batter in muffin tin

7. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the tops are slightly cracked. Cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes. Wedge a knife or offset spatula to lift the cakes out, peel off the parchment. Enjoy with a scoop of ice cream.

salted caramel lava cakes with ice cream on top

Like Sabrina’s lava cakes? Try her gingerbread doughnuts or her chocolate eggnog sandwich cookies.

Person wearing rubber gloves holding veggies at grocery store

Food Insecurity During COVID-19 Linked to Poor Mental Health, According to Statistics Canada

In a new report released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday, Canadians who were worried about having enough food during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring were more likely to view their mental health as poor compared to those who were not.

“Food insecurity in itself can be a stressful experience,” said Heather Gilmour, Statistics Canada analyst and report co-author. “So associated with that can be feelings of frustration or powerlessness or even shame — and those kinds of feelings could trigger existing psychological problems or amplify existing ones or trigger new ones.”

Person wearing rubber gloves holding veggies at grocery store

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

The Statistics Canada report said 14.6 per cent of the respondents to the May 2020 survey experienced food insecurity within the previous 30 days. One in five survey respondents to the survey also perceived their mental health as fair or poor or reported moderate or severe anxiety symptoms.

“We did find that, yes, food insecurity was associated with higher odds or higher risk of having either anxiety symptoms or poor self-recorded mental health,” Gilmour said. “That seemed to increase, that risk increased, the greater the food insecurity that people experienced.”

Related: Best and Worst Foods for Your Mental Health and Wellness

According to Statistics Canada, this study is the first to examine the link between food insecurity and self-perceived mental health symptoms among Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Neopolitan Baked Alaska Snowball is seen cracked open, with various chocolates and chocolate-covered strawberries seen inside

We Tried Mijune Pak’s New Chocolate Creations Just in Time for the Holidays

Foodie, Top Chef Canada judge, all-around champion for restaurants during the year that has been 2020… is there anything Mijune Pak can’t do? Well as it turns out the Vancouver personality hasn’t just been brightening up people’s lives with her virtual Instagram cooking classes and delightful new animated emojis these past few months. She’s also been helping fans relive their childhood memories with a new line of gourmet chocolates that are just as pretty as they are delicious.

Related: Get Mijune Pak’s recipe for a Canadian Pie-in-a-Jar

Mijune Chocolate is a collaboration between Pak and award-winning chocolatier Christophe Bonzon. The limited-edition line of bars and snowballs was inspired by her childhood memories, which is how she wound up with concoctions like Maple Syrup French Toast and Neapolitan Baked Alaska Snowballs. Fans were so pumped to try the goodies come the Oct. 20 launch date that they even crashed the pre-order website.

Luckily we got our hands on some of the festive edibles—which are available to ship across Canada—and we had a few thoughts…

Neapolitan Baked Alaska Snowballs, $18.95

Related: 20 Holiday Gifts Perfect for the Food Lover in Your Life

First impression
You know when something is just too pretty to eat? That’s probably why we had to stash our snowball in the fridge for a few days before we finally broke down and smashed it. Not only was the packaging gorgeous, but the ball itself really did look like some kind of a magical, edible snowball that had been hugged by a fairy. The brilliant pink-and-white boule was finished with snow-like ridges and a sprinkling of chocolate crumble, basically putting this season’s trendy hot chocolate bombs to shame.   

Taste
Where do you even start when you’re presented with a flurry of flavours inside one magic ball? One that you get to crack open with more enthusiasm than a Kinder Surprise Egg? Outside the snowball is made up of creamy, layered milk chocolate, vanilla bean and white chocolate, which is basically a grown-up, sexier version of the childhood favourite, if you ask us. Then inside you’ve got a ton of fun Neapolitan crisps, dark-chocolate-covered marshmallows, and two freeze-dried strawberries that are coated in either ruby pink chocolate or dark chocolate. It’s enough to send your taste buds into overdrive, but in that indulgent, the-holidays-are-here kind of way.

See More: Baked Alaskas Are Making a Comeback – and These Chocolate Hazelnut Treats Are Proof

Inspirations
Mijune was inspired to create these brilliant snowballs from her childhood memories of eating Neapolitan ice cream. And like us, she always ate the chocolate and vanilla, but left the strawberry for someone more unsuspecting. This adult version has all the creamy flavours you remember eating as a kid, but without the brain freeze. Oh, and as for those strawberries? When wrapped in a crispy feuilletine, you kind of wish there were more than just two.

Lasting thoughts
If you can get your hands on one of these rare treats (note to Mijune and Christophe—produce more, please) they make a delightful and fun gift. The only problem is that you’re far more likely to want to keep it for yourself than give it out, especially if you’re stuck at your house for the holidays and are really craving that nostalgic taste of home.

Maple Syrup French Toast, $11.95

First impression
Like the snowball, this French Toast bar comes in an understated-but-pretty package that is also elegant thanks to the gender-neutral gold embellishments. Inside, the bar is also unabashedly Canadian thanks to a swanky Maple Leaf adorning it. Ours was broken in one spot by the time we opened it, however we really loved that the bar was perforated in unexpected diagonal lines, making it so much more elegant than traditional chocolate square bars.

Related: 10 Unexpected Chocolate Flavour Pairings That Are a Perfect Match

Taste
Most people are either a fan of maple or they aren’t. And even those who fall into the former camp have to admit that too much of the treat is overkill—it is kind of sweet, after all. Enter this special French Toast chocolate bar, which tones down the sweetness by pairing the maple with a crumbly, toast-like cookie that feels just a bit rough on your tongue. It’s a fun play on texture and flavour that we didn’t even know could exist in a chocolate bar, and we’d be lying if we said we haven’t been craving more ever since licking the last little bit off our plate.

Inspirations
So many of us grew up eating pancakes, waffles and French toast on a lazy Sunday morning, so you can’t help but feel a little nostalgic when you take that first bite into this bar. As soon as it hits your tongue you’re automatically transported back to the days when you would slather butter and maple syrup over a stack and dive in unabashedly. Just thinking about it now makes us want to whip up some French toast this weekend… 

Lasting thoughts
Whether you want something sweet to go with your tea, or you’re putting together a dessert board with all of your favourite things, the Maple Syrup French Toast bar is one sweet addition. It also makes an impressive gift or stocking stuffer, especially for any Canadians out there who find themselves missing home this holiday season.

Overall thoughts
As far as we’re concerned the only downside to the Maple Syrup French Toast and Neapolitan Baked Alaska Snowballs is that they’re limited-edition runs. We’re sure Mijune and Christophe had a blast acting like Christmas elves and collaborating with these sweet treats, but now that they’ve proven to be every bit as spectacular in practice as they are in theory, here’s hoping for even more sweet, sweet collaborations between these two in the near future.

How to Make French Toast and Other Easy Big Breakfast Recipes

As the old adage reminds us, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And while six in 10 Canadians report eating breakfast every day, it tends to be quick and easy go-to meals, leaving little time for variety and creativity. If you’re looking to up your culinary game in the coming months, why not start with breakfast classics? Think: French toast, oven-baked bacon and waffle platters that would put any charcuterie board to shame. Master the art of big breakfast recipes that’ll become household favourites in no time. You can thank us later!

Brioche French toast on plate

How to Make French Toast

There’s nothing better than the sweet scent of French toast cooking on the stovetop first thing in the morning. If you’ve never tried your hand at the breakfast staple, consider sticking with this tried-and-true classic recipe.

1. In a small bowl combine 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg and two Tbsp of sugar.

2. In a 10-inch or 12-inch skillet, melt 4 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Whisk together cinnamon mixture, 4 eggs, ¼ cup milk and ½ tsp vanilla extract and pour into a shallow container such as a pie plate. Dip bread in egg mixture. Fry slices until golden brown, then flip to cook the other side. Serve with syrup.

Related: Overnight French Toast, Plus More Easy Breakfast Casserole Recipes

What to try something a little more challenging? How about an overnight gingerbread French toast bake (pictured below) for the perfect winter morning dish? Combine the egg mixture with gingerbread spices and cranberries for a hint of tartness.

Overnight French toast bake in pan

Get the recipe for Overnight Gingerbread French Toast Bake

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Is there anything better than the smell of bacon in the morning? Spoiler alert: the answer is no. Even better: this crispy and delicious one-ingredient recipe is ready in a snap.

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.

2. Lay the bacon on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the bacon is really crispy. Dry on paper towels and serve. Voila!

10 pieces of bacon roasting on cookie sheet

Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Roast Bacon

How to Make a Waffle Platter

Feeling ambitious? Impress your family with your culinary skills by whipping up a waffle platter for a hearty breakfast.

1. Plug in your waffle iron and mix dry ingredients (1 cup buckwheat flour, 1 Tbsp coconut sugar, 2 tsp baking powder and a pinch sea salt) into a bowl.

2. Mix the wet ingredients (1 egg, ¼ cup melted coconut oil
and 1 cup dairy-free milk) in a separate bowl.

3. Pour the dry into the wet and whisk until a batter comes together.

4. Once the waffle iron is hot, scoop about ⅓ cup batter onto the iron, close it and let it cook for about 3 minutes.

The beauty of this waffle platter is the plethora of toppings you have to work with. Think: fresh fruits, proteins (hard-boiled eggs, cheese, smoked salmon), pantry staples (dried fruits, seeds, nuts) and syrups or spreads (maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, tahini, yogurt).

Cutting board with waffles and fruit layered on top

Get the recipe for Gluten-Free Buckwheat Power Waffles

Want more how-tos? We give you the lowdown on how to make apple juice and the perfect hard-boiled eggs.

These Vegan Sloppy Joe Sliders Are Your Answer to Healthy Entertaining

This unconventional take on the sloppy Joe is inspired by the popular chickpea-filled Trinidadian street food, doubles. Like sloppy Joes, doubles are a deliciously messy, sweet and savoury snack. They’re typically made of channa (a curried chickpea filling) sandwiched between two pieces of fried dough with tamarind sauce, chutneys and pepper sauce.

For this Can You Vegan It? sloppy Joe recipe, the fried dough is replaced with mini sesame-seed buns. The savoury curried chickpea filling is topped with a spicy and crunchy cucumber chutney, as well as a tangy pineapple jam rather than tamarind sauce. It’s an unlikely combination, but if you enjoy sweet, savoury and spicy flavours, this recipe is calling your name. It’s perfect for pleasing picky kids or entertaining guests. Plus they’re veg-friendly for everyone to enjoy!

Vegan Sloppy Joe Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 12 sliders

Ingredients:

Channa (Chickpea Filling)
1 large onion
3 garlic cloves
3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp turmeric
2 Tbsp geera (ground roasted cumin)
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 can drained chickpeas (28 oz)
4 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 scotch bonnet pepper
Salt, to taste

Spicy Cucumber Chutney
½ large field cucumber
⅓ scotch bonnet pepper
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

Additional
Pineapple jam or guava jam (you can find this in the Caribbean section of the grocery store or at a Caribbean grocery store)
12 sesame buns (or any type of slider buns you prefer)

Directions:

1. Finely chop the onion, garlic cloves and green onion. Add a few spoons of oil to a large pot at medium heat. Then saute the onion, garlic and green onion.

2. Once the onions become translucent, add the turmeric, geera and curry powder and stir — add a bit of water if necessary to keep the ingredients from sticking to the pot.

3. Add the drained chickpeas and chopped cilantro and stir. Then pour enough water to cover the chickpeas and add in the scotch bonnet pepper (do not cut the pepper). Let the ingredients simmer on medium heat until soft, adding more water when necessary to keep the mixture from burning or sticking to the pan.

4. Once the chickpeas have softened and the mixture has a thick consistency, take it off the heat and let cool.

Related: Our Most Popular Vegan Recipes Ever

5. Use a grater to shred half the field cucumber and place in a bowl.

6. Finely chop the ⅓ scotch bonnet pepper, removing most of the seeds (this pepper is incredibly spicy, so be careful when handling) before adding to the bowl of grated cucumber.

7. Add the lime juice and chopped cilantro to the bowl. Mix the ingredients together and place in a mason jar.

8. Lightly toast the sesame buns and spread a generous portion of pineapple jam to the bottom of the bun, then add a few spoonfuls of the chickpea channa mix, top with a bit of the spicy cucumber chutney — and enjoy!

Like Eden’s vegan sloppy Joes? Try her sweet potato blondies or cardamom teff apple muffins.

Published June 11, 2018, Updated December 13, 2020

We Tried 4 Different Vegan Cheeses in Canada. Here’s the Winner (Plus a Recipe!)

I probably appreciate cheese more than the average person — the dairy-laden type of fromage that makes a charcuterie board sing and a pizza one of the greatest edible creations on earth.  But, somewhat ironically, I also appreciate plant-based spins on classics just as dearly — and if you were to peer inside my fridge on any given week, you’d find a block of Parm, some fancy old Cheddar and a nut cheese or two sitting pretty. Because balance is everything, right?

I consider myself a bit of an expert on vegan cheese (and vegan cheese brands in general) — and to be totally honest, I expect them to stand up to their traditional counterpart. Call me a harsh critic, but there are some questionable dairy-free options on shelves that are definitely not worth their $7-$12 price tag.

So, after having taste tested my fair share, here’s my honest opinion on four popular plant-based, dairy-free cheeses available in Canada, from nut-based options to inventive coconut-inspired versions.

Related: I Tried “Beyond Meat” Meals at 5 Popular Canadian Chains. Here’s How They Stacked Up

1.  Violife Foods’ Feta-Style Block

Feta cheese made vegan and palatable is an ambitious undertaking. I’ll admit: I was skeptical about this one. But Violife’s coconut-oil based version is deceiving in the best way. It tastes like feta (read: super creamy, slightly salty and silky smooth) and even crumbles like it. Any lingering taste of coconut was subtler than I imagined, which makes it a reliable salad topper. I haven’t tried melting it yet (on Greek-style pizza or whipped into baked potatoes?) but consider it my next “cooking in quarantine” experiment.

Who Will Love It: Feta-cheese devotees seeking a dairy-free alternative that passes the taste test. Also those who prefer a nut-free vegan fromage.

Rating: 4 cheese wheels out of 5

2. Farm Boy’s Camembert-Style Ash-Ripened Cashew Cheese

OK, this is hands down my favourite Canadian vegan cheese on the market right now, which further solidifies Farm Boy’s well-earned status as the Canadian Trader Joes (who’s with me?). If you’re looking for a plant-based option, the Ontario grocery chain’s brand of nut-based cheeses are worth the $10.99 splurge. Bonus points for creativity: their Camembert-style cashew wheel is “ripened” with food-grade activated charcoal, which gives it a convincing rind reminiscent of traditional Camembert.

Who Will Love It: Charcuterie-loving hosts looking for a crowd-pleasing vegan cheese that’ll elevate any grazing board.

Rating: 5 cheese wheels out of 5

3. Field Roast’s Chao Creamy Original Slices

Field Roast is a popular vegan brand, and their cheese slices boast a more affordable price tag ($6.99) than the rest on this list. Made from coconut oil and tofu, it’s another nut-free option, though unfortunately, it didn’t pass the taste test for me. Eaten on its own, it has a mild coconut flavour and tastes more processed than the rest. However, it melts beautifully, and when tossed on a bagel with all the vegan fixings, it proved a satisfying and easy lunch.

Who Will Love It: Easy-to-please eaters who want a sliceable plant-based cheese in their fridge for quick meals, from loaded breakfast sandwiches to gourmet grilled cheese.

Rating: 3 cheese wheels out of 5

Related: Satisfying Vegan Breakfast Recipes You’ll Want Every Morning

4. Culcherd’s Tree Nut Cheese, Herb & Garlic

You’ll find this round of creamy, herbaceous vegan cheese in my fridge most often thanks to its versatility. I’ll slather it onto crackers (think Boursin, just not quite as spreadable), dollop it onto spaghetti squash pasta or chop up pieces to toss into a salad. It’s another rich, cashew-based option that’s super filling — and also fragrant thanks to ingredients like nutritional yeast, garlic powder, basil, parsley and thyme.

Who Will Love It: The everyday cook and kitchen grazer looking for a reliable nut cheese to always have on hand, no matter what’s on the menu for the week.

Rating: 4 cheese wheels out of 5

Related: 5 Delicious New Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast (And Why it Belongs in Your Pantry)

Recipe: Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Overall, there are some impressive dairy-free cheese products out there, whether you prescribe to a vegan diet or not. But here’s the thing: if you don’t want to splurge on a fancy block, try your hand at making one at home instead.

I followed this recipe for Vegan Parmesan Cheese (final product pictured above!). It took all of five minutes to whip up and calls for five simple ingredients (cashews, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt). A little pinch goes a long way, and it lasts in the fridge for up to one month.

You can also try making this Vegan Cheddar Wheel or Vegan Cashew Cheese.

First photo courtesy of Violife Foods; remaining photos and feature image courtesy of Brittany Devenyi

Ham and Collard Greens Star in This Tasty Soup From The Pioneer Woman

Ever wonder how to cook collard greens? We’ve got the perfect comforting dish for your first attempt. Collard greens have seen a resurgence in popularity of late, and The Pioneer Woman herself has an easy soul food recipe you can quickly whip up on a busy weeknight.

Crisp bunches of collard greens, diced ham, navy beans and a spicy kick from minced jalapeno simmer together in a chicken broth for a must-try soup that is the ultimate example of comfort food. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese and consider grabbing a crusty artisan baguette for serving. Voila! This simple Ree Drummond masterpiece is one of our favourite Pioneer Woman recipes.

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The Pioneer Woman’s Ham and Collard Soup Recipe

Total: 35 minutes
Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp salted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
2 lbs ham, diced
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 bunches collards, stems removed, chopped
Two 15.5-ounce cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Crusty artisan baguette, torn into pieces, for serving

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Directions:

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the stock, ham, salt, pepper, collards and beans. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the collards have softened and the flavors have come together, about 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the vinegar and taste. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve in bowls and garnish with the Parmesan and parsley. Serve each bowl with a chunk of crusty baguette.


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